The second annual ‘Ag Mental Health Week’ is set to begin on Sunday, October 10, and will run until Saturday, October 16.

The first day of the 2021 Ag Mental Health Week is also World Mental Health Day. The aim is to highlight tips and available resources, through “insightful panel discussions”.

“Amid the rising pressures of farm management while often supporting a family, farmers are particularly susceptible to poor mental health,” organisers say.

“Ag Mental Health Week will take place from October 10-16, with an aim to reduce the stigma around suicide and mental health and highlight the importance of prioritising mental well-being.”

The event will feature daily social media posts, with we-llbeing tips and panel discussions that explore mental health issues from various perspectives.

The panel discussions will feature:

  • Family members of people who faced a mental health crisis;
  • Minister of State for farm safety Martin Heydon;
  • Dr. Rachel Ward, contributor to BBC Breakfast;
  • Lizzie Lockett, CEO if the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in the UK;
  • Bloyce Thompson, Minister for Agriculture in the government of the province of Prince Edward Island, Canada;
  • Racheal McGrath, Australian dairy farmer;
  • Conor Hammersley, Teagasc PhD scholar studying farmer mental health;
  • Jessica Sperber, PhD student in ruminant nutrition at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the US;

To mark the week, anyone connected to the agriculture industry is invited to take a one-mile walk or run on October 13.

Organisers hope the activity will “unite the ag community around the world and highlight the crucial importance of taking breaks, enjoying nature and clearing our minds”.

Related charities and services are urged to get involved by planning events during the week, and agriculture students are encouraged to focus on making a positive difference during the week, such as hosting a fundraiser for their local support services.

Ag Mental Health Week was founded in 2020 by Co. Cork dairy farmers Peter and Paula Hynes. They are joined by a “global group of likeminded leaders who share a commitment to addressing the issue of mental health within the agriculture industry”.